Cordylanthus wrightii is an annual that has filiform divided leaves and a yellow corolla that is partially obscured by the green calyx. The flowers do not seem to open fully. It is found on dry hillsides at middle elevation.
Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougal 1973, Heil et al. 2013, Allred and Ivey 2012
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual herb, 3-50 cm tall, from a slender yellow taproot; stem solitary, paniculate-branching, and leafy; herbage glandular-pubescent to glabrous. Leaves: Alternate along the stems; blades 1-4 cm long, pinnatifid into 3-5 filiform divisions. Flowers: Yellow to purple, in capitate clusters of 2-10 flowers at branch tips; each flower cluster is subtended by one or more bracts with the same filiform pinnatifid morphology as the leaves; each flower within the spike is subtended by a lanceolate bract, 15-25 mm long, with an entire margin or occasionally with the tip divided into a few short narrow lobes; calyx 2-3 cm long, tubular at the base, split and extending dorsally into a sheath-like structure, (the whole resembling 2 lobes); petals yellow to lavender or lavender-marked, sparsely pubescent, 2-3 cm long, fused into a tube and strongly 2-lipped at the top, the two lips roughly equal in size; the upper lip is helmet-shaped (galeate) and enclosing the stamens and style, and the lower lip is inflated and 3-lobed. Fruits: Capsules slender, compressed, 1 cm long; containing numerous honeycombed seeds, 2 mm long. Ecology: Found on dry plains and hills, from 4,000-8,000 ft (1219-2438 m); flowers July-October. Distribution: TX to CO, UT, NM, and AZ; south to n MEX Notes: Distinguished by being a much-branched annual with finely divided feathery leaves and tight clusters of yellow or yellow-and-purple, usually hairy flowers at the tips of the branches. The flowers appear to never open, but upon closer inspection you'll see there is a tiny gap at the top of the corolla for pollinators to enter. Ethnobotany: A decoction of the plant was used for syphilis, menstrual pain, prolapses of the uterus, and by men for leg or body aches; also used for ceremonial purposes. Synonyms: None Editor: LCrumbacher 2011, AHazelton 2017 Etymology: Cordylanthus comes from two Greek words cordule, "club," and anthos, "flower", while wrightii is named after William Greenwood Wright (1831-1912), one of the first lepidopterists in California.